“The Sanguinarian Id” is not a graphic novel. Yet.
The illustrated novel from New Orleans native and Xavier University student L.M. Labat is just the first medium the writer, illustrator, musician and historian found to complete the first piece of her long-simmering sci-fi/horror adventure.
Released Jan. 3 by Night to Dawn Magazine & Books, “The Sanguinarian Id” features 22 intricate illustrations hand-drawn by Labat to punctuate the story of a half-vampire who shreds much viscera en route to some necessary revenge. Per Google: “sanguinarian” is defined as “active vampirism,” while the id is the part of the psyche responsible for unabashed indulgence.
The book has received some good reviews and is available online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and electronic versions.
Labat, 22, is a woman who identifies as black but shuns labels in an attempt to keep consumers’ focus on her art, which is copious.
The first of at least four sequels to “The Sanguinarian Id” is currently being edited, and Labat has plans to write and illustrate a graphic novel adaptation. Future installments will span the globe, incorporating vampire legends native to each region of the world. “The Sanguinarian Id” takes place in World War II-era Europe. Naturally, Labat, grandchild of the late local jazz stalwart Lionel Ferbos, said a future edition will feature New Orleans.
“I grew up reading Anne Rice, and I like her take on vampires in New Orleans and other legends like the rougarou (swamp werewolf),” Labat said. “I want to explore all the different legends that stem from New Orleans and how they intertwine with history.”
The author’s own history with horror, both real and fictional, is tangible throughout “The Sanguinarian Id.”
As a child, Labat said, she endured an “onslaught” of emotional and verbal abuse from a close family member. She blames the stress of that relationship for triggering a severe case of chronic plaque psoriasis.
And like the story’s protagonist, Hael, Labat is of mixed heritage.
“As a kid, I was bullied by black and white kids. I was the weird one. The outcast. Then the psoriasis added a whole new layer of crap. I was seriously isolated,” Labat said. “My main character is based in gypsy lore. A dhampir is a creature born of a vampire and a mortal. They aren’t welcome in either world.”
Through Hael, Labat is able to harness some of the anger that flows from her personal pathos into a form of power. And the horror movies and comic books that once provided an escape from real life now provide the infrastructure for that release.
“When I was little, I was drawn to characters like Kirk Wagner (Nightcrawler from “X-Men”) and Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin from “Batman”) because they would get judged on their appearance. But I was also into Freddy Krueger and Hannibal Lecter, and I loved them and watched them all the time,” Labat said.
“I was never afraid of them because I knew they were fiction. My mom and grandmother would tell me, ‘This is Hollywood. There are mean people in the world, but this is fake.’ And I knew firsthand how cruel people could be,” she said.
While double-majoring in psychology and art at Xavier, Labat began to focus her writings and drawings into what became “The Sanguinarian Id.” What began as a macabre poem written in high school at De La Salle evolved into a story of fantastic violence and comeuppance told through meticulous research, paint, and pen and ink. Labat even delved into coding to create thesanguinarianid.com.
Barbara Custer, owner of Night to Dawn Magazine & Books LLC, said Labat’s versatility was a big part of what made “The Sanguinarian Id” stand out. The plot incorporates Labat’s historical research on the mid-20th century, and the illustrations draw on studies from anatomical texts to handwriting analysis.
“Labat sent me sample chapters and an illustration for the cover. The plot kept me turning pages and asking for the rest of the manuscript. The rest is history,” Custer said.
Labat said the relationship with Night to Dawn is ideal because Custer doesn’t interfere with the product to make it more commercial. Many of the 40-plus rejections Labat received suggested altering the book.
“The process of becoming an author really humbled me. It’s some of the most grueling, depressing (stuff) I’ve ever had to go through. Unless I’m editing stuff to enhance the storytelling, I’m not changing anything. I’m not changing my characters’ names. I will not apologize for my art,” Labat said.